Amount of dust blown across the West is increasing, says CU-Boulder study

first_img“What we know is that there are a lot of dust storms, and if you ask people on the Western Slope of Colorado, or in Utah or Arizona, you’ll often hear them say, ‘Yeah, I grew up in this area, and I don’t remember it ever being like this before,’ ” said CU-Boulder geological sciences Associate Professor Jason Neff. “So there is anecdotal evidence out there that things are changing, but no scientific data that can tell us whether or not that’s true, at least for the recent past.” Published: June 10, 2013 A dust storm blows into Mesa Verde National Park. Photo courtesy of Jason Neff Share Share via TwitterShare via FacebookShare via LinkedInShare via E-mailcenter_img The amount of dust being blown across the landscape has increased over the last 17 years in large swaths of the West, according to a new study led by the University of Colorado Boulder.The escalation in dust emissions — which may be due to the interplay of several factors, including increased windstorm frequency, drought cycles and changing land-use patterns — has implications both for the areas where the dust is first picked up by the winds and for the places where the dust is put back down.“Dust storms cause a large-scale reorganization of nutrients on the surface of the Earth,” said Janice Brahney, who led the study as a CU-Boulder doctoral student. “And we don’t routinely monitor dust in most places, which means we don’t have a good handle on how the material is moving, when it’s moving and where it’s going.”Based on anecdotal evidence, such as incidents of dust coating the snowpack in the southern Rockies and a seemingly greater number of dust storms noticed by Western residents, scientists have suspected that dust emissions were increasing. But because dust has not been routinely measured over long periods of time, it was difficult to say for sure.“What we know is that there are a lot of dust storms, and if you ask people on the Western Slope of Colorado, or in Utah or Arizona, you’ll often hear them say, ‘Yeah, I grew up in this area, and I don’t remember it ever being like this before,’ ” said CU-Boulder geological sciences Associate Professor Jason Neff, Brahney’s adviser and a co-author of the paper. “So there is anecdotal evidence out there that things are changing, but no scientific data that can tell us whether or not that’s true, at least for the recent past.”For the new study, recently published online in the journal Aeolian Research, the research team set out to determine if they could use calcium deposition as a proxy for dust measurements. Calcium can make its way into the atmosphere — before falling back to earth along with precipitation — through a number of avenues, including coal-fired power plants, forest fires, ocean spray and, key to this study, wind erosion of soils.The amount of calcium dissolved in precipitation has long been measured by the National Atmospheric Deposition Program, or NADP, which first began recording the chemicals dissolved in precipitation in the late 1970s to better understand the phenomena of acid rain.Brahney and her colleagues reviewed calcium deposition data from 175 NADP sites across the United States between 1994 and 2010, and they found that calcium deposition had increased at 116 of them. The sites with the greatest increases were clustered in the Northwest, the Midwest and the Intermountain West, with Colorado, Wyoming and Utah seeing especially large increases.The scientists were able to determine that the increase was linked to dust erosion because none of the other possible sources of atmospheric calcium — including industrial emissions, forest fires or ocean spray — had increased during the 17-year period studied.It’s also likely that the calcium deposition record underrepresents the amount of dust that’s being blown around, said Brahney, who is now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of British Columbia in Canada. That’s because the NADP network only measures dust that has collided with water in the atmosphere before precipitating to earth — not dust that is simply moved by the wind. And not all dust contains the same amount of calcium.The increase in dust erosion matters, the researchers said, because it can impoverish the soil in the areas where dust is being lost. Wind tends to pick up the finer particles in the soils, and those are the same particles that have the most nutrients and can hold onto the most soil moisture, Brahney said.Increasing amounts of dust in the atmosphere also can cause people living in the rural West a variety of problems, including poor air quality and low visibility. In extreme cases, dust storms have shut down freeways, creating problems for travelers.The areas where the dust travels to are also affected, though the impacts are more mixed. When dust is blown onto an existing snowpack, as is often the case in the Rockies, the dark particles better absorb the sun’s energy and cause the snowpack to melt more quickly. But the dust that’s blown in also brings nutrients to alpine areas, and the calcium in dust can buffer the effects of acid rain.In the future, researchers working in Neff’s lab hope to get a more precise picture of dust movement by measuring the dust itself. In the last five years, large vacuum-like measuring instruments designed specifically to suck in dust emissions have been installed at sites between the canyon lands of Utah and the Front Range of the Rockies. Once scientists have enough data collected, they’ll be able to look for trends in dust emissions without relying on proxies.The study was funded by the National Science Foundation.Contact: Janice Brahney, [email protected] Jason Neff, [email protected] Laura Snider, CU media relations, [email protected] Categories:AcademicsScience & TechnologyEnvironmentCampus CommunityNews Headlineslast_img read more

Read More »

Kenneth “Leo” Benoit

first_img A visitation for family and friends will be Friday evening from 5:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. at the funeral home.Friends wishing to make memorial contributions may send them to Groves National Little League Baseball. Kenneth “Leo” Benoit, 52 of Groves, Texas passed away Wednesday, June 29, 2016.Leo was born November 22, 1963 in Port Arthur, Texas to Ursin Benoit and Evelyn Simon Benoit. He was a lifelong area resident and was employed by Triple S Industrial as an iron worker. Leo loved spending time at his deer lease, doing lawn work for Leo’s Lawn Service, and helping people out. But most of all he loved spending time with his family and loved ones.He is survived by his wife, Shelly Wehmeyer Benoit of Groves; father, Ursin Benoit of Groves; daughter, Kensie Benoit of San Antonio; sons, Kane Benoit and his wife Hannah of Port Neches, Keaston Benoit and Kooper Benoit both of Groves; brothers, Lowell Benoit and his wife Debbie of Port Neches, Dwayne Benoit and his wife Mary Kay of Nederland; father and mother-in-law, Dennis and Sandra Wehmeyer of Groves; sisters-in-law, Wendy Gaona and her husband Richard of Port Neches, Natalie McDaniel and her husband Burl of Groves;  nieces, Bree Dauterive and her husband John, Amber Wagner and her husband Chris; nephews, Brett Wehmeyer, Deny McDaniel, Shawn Benoit, and Derek Benoit.center_img Funeral services will be at 10:00 a.m., Saturday, July 2, 2016 at Levingston Funeral Home in Groves with Reverend Richard Turner officiating.last_img read more

Read More »

Future of community center idea, comprehensive planning and local action on climate issues: Our questions for the Shawnee governing body candidates

first_imgA few weeks ago, we asked our readers to submit suggestions for questions they’d like to hear the candidates running for seats on the Shawnee governing body address.Based on the input we received, we’ve developed the five-item questionnaire below and sent it out to the candidates competing in the following races:MayorStephanie MeyerMichelle Distler (incumbent)Council Member Ward 1Tammy ThomasJim Neighbor (incumbent)Council Member Ward 2Eric Jenkins (incumbent)Andy RondonCouncil Member Ward 3Kurt KnappenDawn RattanCouncil Member Ward 3 (2 Year Unexpired Term)Lisa Larson-Bunnell (incumbent)Kevin StraubCouncil Member Ward 4Kris DurbinJill ChalfieWe’ll be running the candidates’ responses to these items starting Monday, Oct 14.Question 1What’s the biggest challenge facing the city of Shawnee today, and what should city government be doing about it?Question 2Voters soundly defeated a proposed property tax increase to pay for a community center. Do you think a major community center like the one that was proposed is still a project the city should be considering? Or is it time to move on? Why?Question 3The city is in the process of conducting its first comprehensive planning process. What goals or themes are you hoping to see in the final plan?Question 4Consideration of a non-discrimination ordinance with legal protections for LGBTQ+ individuals brought out dozens of residents who voiced both support for and opposition to the idea. Do you agree with the council’s decision to adopt the NDO? Why or why not?Question 5In recent months, city officials from across the metro area have been coordinating on ideas that local governments can take to address climate change. Do you support the idea of city government taking steps to increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Why or why not?last_img read more

Read More »